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Military Ethics and Military Ethics Education: In Search of a “European Approach”

By Lonneke Peperkamp & Kevin van Loon & Deane-Peter Baker & David Evered

In order to distinguish a European approach to military ethics, it is helpful to refer to common definitions of the latter in the first place. Military ethics is often conceived as an academic field of research and theory building as well as an applied ethics with a strong focus on the education of military personnel. In order to lay out a groundwork for an analysis, this paper identifies four dimensions of military ethics: purpose, theoretical underpinnings, content, and didactic methods. Each of them is discussed in more detail then, with its different approaches, theories, subjects and methods. 

The distinctiveness of a national or regional understanding can be brought to light by comparing the these four dimensions. In the last section, therefore, this paper provides a preliminary analysis of differences and similarities between Dutch and Australian views. This permits not only to detect similarities between the two nations, e.g. a strong focus on virtue ethics and case studies, but also inconsistencies in the different national curricula themselves. However, looking for a distinctive European military ethics would mainly require empirical research, arguably also in related fields.

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